The story: The owners of Fork Cafe in the Castro suddenly closed earlier this year and did a quick-change to reopen as Slurp Noodle Bar, thinking that the neighborhood needed an all-noodle eatery to complement the various Asian, Italian, California, and diner concepts firmly established in the hood.
Why I went: I love noodles, and I like the idea of a noodle shop that serves noodle dishes from various Asian countries, instead of just ramen, pho, or mein. Slurp tries to have it all. I suggested it to my friend Tat who was craving dim sum, but I persuaded him and some other friends to make the switch.
The vibe: I’ve never been to the previous Fork, but the space still feels a bit neutral, not really a noodle shop. But the open kitchen and open space with covered front outdoor space adds to the casual and communal vibe with people sitting close together, chatting away.
The menu: Executive Chef Daniel Sudar created a menu that features dishes from Malaysia, China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea and Thailand. But it’s not a very extensive menu, with maybe one or two dishes from each country (primarily the dominant soup noodle dish of the country such as pho from Vietnam and ramen from Japan). Along with the noodle offerings, there are quite a few appetizers and salads, including pork belly steam buns (three for $7.50) and papaya salad ($7.95).
The booze: There are Asian beers and a few specialty drinks, but I stuck to my standby Thai iced tea.
My favorite dish: I felt like the noodle dish I tried, soto ayam ($12.50), a curry clear broth bowl from Indonesia, was weak. My friends felt the same about their laksa ($12.50, pictured at top of post) and Emerald fire noodles ($7.95). But a memorable dish was the appetizer of sui-jao, a Chinese dumpling with pork and shrimp with spicy Szechuan dipping sauce (five dumplings for $7.50). The dumplings were nicely cooked and I really enjoyed the spicy dipping sauce.
Insider tip: While there is an outdoor space, the real outside dining are the two tables on the sidewalk. And with the recent expansion of the Castro Street sidewalks, you can sit on the sidewalk and people watch without feeling trampled over.
The last bite: The servers seem to still be adjusting to the new format because many of them couldn’t really explain the various dishes (our server didn’t know which country my soto ayam came from), and the broth of the soup dishes seem on the mild side. But the appetizers are fun and tasty, and the variety of Asian dishes offers something for everyone (including vegans).
The rating: 2 out of 4 camera snaps
The deets: Slurp Noodle Bar, 469 Castro St., San Francisco. PH: 415.553.6633. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (till 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday). Major credit cards accepted. No reservations. Facebook page
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